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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Florida International: Faculty Says Opioid Epidemic Still a Public Health Crisis, Though Drug Overdoses are Down,

The Centers for Disease Control recently released preliminary data finding that drug overdoses in the U.S. are down for the first time in nearly thirty years. A severe crisis that affects public health along with social and economic welfare, drug overdoses hit an all-time high in 2017 with about 70,000 deaths.

Currently, the majority of overdoses are from prescription opioids, synthetic opioids and heroin. The majority of overdoses are the result of a combination of more than one drug.

“The problem with the opioid epidemic is that it’s a public health crisis that affects every demographic in every state. It’s the leading cause of injury-related death in the U.S. – surpassing motor vehicles,” said Dr. Anthoni Llau, research scientist for the Global Health Consortium  at the Florida International University Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work and research partner with the Miami-Dade County Opioid Affected Youth Initiative. “There are more people going into drug treatment and rehabilitation centers, and more babies being born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, which, of course, leads to an increased burden on society and loss of productivity.”

The prescription drug crisis is most often linked to pharmaceutical companies and distributor sales of painkillers in the mid-90s and the over prescription of painkillers in the early 2000s that would often lead to addiction and the misuse of painkillers.

“While the national trends show an overall decline in overdoses, deaths resulting from illicit opioids such as heroin and fentanyl continue to rise. Once physicians stopped prescribing the drugs as often, people would either purposefully injure themselves for new prescriptions or move on to illicit opioids, which tend to be cheaper and easier to get,” continued Dr. Llau.

Learn more about Dr. Llau’s work with the Miami-Dade County Opioid Affected Youth Initiative.

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